- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2000

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. Tiger Woods took his 18-hole victory lap around Pebble Beach Golf Links yesterday, blazing to a major-championship-record 15-stroke victory at the 100th U.S. Open and tying the lowest score in the tournament's history.
"Coming into the event, this is what I had in mind. All week, I've had a sense of calmness that I haven't had in a while," said Woods after posting a brilliant final-round 67 and adding the Open trophy to a Grand Slam stash that already includes a green jacket (1997 Masters) and a Wanamaker Trophy (1999 PGA Championship). "For some reason, no matter what happened out there, I was able to keep my cool and my composure and focus 100 percent on every shot."
The 24-year-old Woods carried a 10-stroke lead into the final round, and victory was a fait accompli well before he stepped on the 6,846-yard, par-71 course late yesterday afternoon. Nobody had ever blown a lead of six strokes or more entering the final round of the Open. And everyone on the property yesterday was in agreement that the only thing that could stop Woods from closing his first Open title was a permanent plunge into the Pacific Ocean.
"What Tiger has done this week is simply unreal," said Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, who surrendered to Woods on Saturday night. "As I said before, I was playing in one tournament, and I have no idea what tournament he's playing in. He's on a different level."
Woods has played the game at a different level from the rest of the golf world for the past 13 months. Starting at the Memorial Tournament in May of last year, Woods has won 12 of the 21 events he has entered and finished in the top five 18 times. Woods has been out of contention at a tournament just three times in more than a year. No player in modern history can boast such a run of consistent dominance.
The legendary Jack Nicklaus, who has more major championship titles (18) on his resume than any other player, never put together a similar stretch of total superiority on the PGA Tour. Neither did Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson or Johnny Miller.
"I think the difference between Jack [early in his career] and Tiger is that Tiger has a much more developed short game," said 50-year-old Watson, who has eight major titles to his credit, including the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble. "I still think I can play with these young kids … all but one."
Golf's chosen one walked off Pebble Beach as one of five wire-to-wire winners in the event's history, owning all or a share of seven Open records, including largest margin of victory (15 strokes), lowest 72-hole total (272), lowest score in relation to par (12-under), most strokes under par at any point in the Open (12), lowest 36-hole score (134), largest 36-hole lead (six strokes) and largest 54-hole lead (10 strokes).
And he's only 24.
Next month at the British Open at St. Andrews, Woods will attempt to join Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Player as just the fifth player in history to win all four legs of the Grand Slam (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship). Amazingly, Woods has a chance to accomplish that feat two years before Nicklaus, who in 1966 became the youngest player to complete the slam when he won the British Open at Muirfield at 26.
"Tiger's got phenomenal focus," said Nicklaus, who missed the cut Friday in his 44th consecutive and likely last Open appearance. "If he can keep that going for a long period of time, then I think he'll break all my records and everybody else's."

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